Monday 16 November 2015

Council budget - Education bears the brunt

Further to my earlier post, Budget time again..and £18m axed from schools, a few words about this morning's ten minute Executive Board meeting which saw the council's budget rubber stamped for public consultation. The process starts later this week.

Given that nearly half of the proposed £40m savings over the next three years are to come from education I expected this to be given a mention. I expected a comment, or note of concern from the Executive Board member for education, Plaid Cllr Gareth Jones that slicing a whopping £18.26m from schools, around 16% of their budget, would lead to even more teaching redundancies and without a doubt have an adverse affect on our children, let alone the risks of putting all your efficiency eggs in one basket, well half of them. There was not a mention.
The financial strain will be doubly compounded should the chief executive, following his insinuations at the last meeting, have his wish that schools should fund their own redundancy costs as well.

Back in July the Welsh Government claimed it was protecting the national education budget and was committed to 'sheltering schools from the worst of the cuts'. It looks like Carmarthenshire council have decided the exact opposite and schools will, in fact, bear the full brunt.

With the leader, Cllr Dole, away doing something important in Brussels it was left to Plaid's Dai Jenkins to present the budget report, a far cry from the anti-austerity promises from their pre-June opposition, they have certainly grasped the poisoned chalice; firmly following the traditions of their predecessors. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how the Labour opposition shapes up over the next few months, if at all, but I noticed that none of them were there today, fielding a 'Councillor Question' or two.

18th November;
The council's online budget consultation can be accessed here and runs until the 3rd January.


Anonymous said...

This is really awful news. It looks like the usual will happen. There will be little or no challenge from either the nodding-dog majority of councillors, and quite probably little from the public consultation - which is always an empty exercise, as if the desired feedback isn't forthcoming it'll be ignored anyway. That's assuming the consultation is properly advertised - front page of local press, or the council's own BUMF, might be good. Then all hell will break loose once the budget is approved and the cuts start to actually take effect.

Anonymous said...

The payment of Redundancy is due by the compensating authority in statute.
The compensating authority for schools in Wales funded by state spending are their respective local authorities, so the CE of Carmarthenshire will need to re-write, certainly Wales legislation if not Parliamentary legislation for there to be any chance of his statement on redundancy payments succeeding.
In short, Local Authorities are for the time being anyway, the employer and therefore responsible for the payment of Redundancy payments. This is more probably employment legislation that is not devolved to the NAfW.

Cneifiwr said...

Interesting, Anon @10.11. This appears to be a legal minefield. See provisions 3 and 4 of the Education (Modification of Enactments Relating to Employment) (Wales) Order 2006. It's not exactly easy reading, but it suggests that boards of governors are the employers with all the rights and duties that that entails.

If the CE has his way, schools will have to pay for the rope and bullets used in their own execution.

As far as the cuts themselves go, Carmarthenshire would yet again appear to be blazing a trail because one of the key promises made by Carwyn Jones was that education spending would not only be safe on his watch, but would even be increased.

There has been no announcement of what would be a very dramatic change in Welsh Government policy, but Carmarthenshire County Council seems to know something the rest of us don't.

Anonymous said...

WG have lifted the protection on Education - so blame Westminster then Cardiff

Anonymous said...

It is little wonder that education will take a huge hit after the Wesh general election.All the health stats and press reports have been so poor for so long that to challenge the narrative the Labour government will have to find new cash by raiding other budgets. The loss of the Vale of Clwyd and Gower seats to the Tories at the UK general election, where local campaigns were reported to have had big heath components have caused major shocks for the Labour party. The number of Labour supporters that have renamed Gower as 'Gower which was held by Labour for 100 years' shows how they have been shaken by the result.
I guess a cuts agenda in Carmarthenshire will totally restructure the face of primary education in the county. Reduction of funding will finish many small rural schools. Town schools will also be under the cosh. The vast majority of Llanelli primary schools have populations of about 250 pupils and non teaching heads. Cuts of around £30/40 k for the next three years will force governing bodies to look to new arrangements such as mergers or sharing management teams or in some cases closures.